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by Clyde Powell

 

 







 


Key West Area Parks Everglades National Park Canoe Trips  

Some Canoe trips in the Everglades National Park
 

bulletNine Mile Pond Loop
A 5.2 miles (8.3 km) round trip. Eleven miles (18 km) north of Flamingo. A scenic trail through a shallow sawgrass marsh with scattered islands of mangroves. Watch for alligators, wading birds, and an occasional eagle. Trail marked with numbered white poles. Motors prohibited.
 
bulletNoble Hammock Trail
A 2 mile (3.2 km) loop. Nine miles (14 km) north of Flamingo. This trail winds through a maze of shady mangrove-lined creeks and small ponds. Sharp corners and narrow passageways require good maneuvering skills. Enjoy a "crash" course. Check for low water levels during the dry season. Motors prohibited. A calm trail on a windy day.
 
bulletHells Bay Trail
A 3.0 miles (4.8 km) to Lard Can campsite; 3.5 miles (5.4 km) to Pearl Bay chickee; 5.5 miles (8.8 km) to Hells Bay chickee. Nine miles (14 km) north of Flamingo. "Hell to get into and hell to get out of," old timers claimed. This sheltered route weaves through mangrove creeks and ponds to a series of small bays beyond Lard Can. Trail marked with more than 160 numbered poles. Motors prohibited from the trailhead to Lard Can. Backcountry permit required for overnight camping. Pearl Bay chickee is wheelchair accessible.
 
bulletFlorida Bay
The distance varies. Opportunities abound! Watch birds (particularly at Snake Bight during medium to high tide), fish, or enjoy the scenery of the bay. Visit Bradley Key (during daylight hours only), the only nearby key open to landing.
 
bulletBear Lake Canal
A 1.6 miles (2.6 km) to Bear Lake, 11.5 miles (18.4 km) one way to Cape Sable. Two miles (3 km) north of Flamingo on the Bear Lake Road. Travel along a narrow, tree-covered historic canal. An abundance of tropical plants and tree species is visible along the trail. Impassable between markers 13 and 17 during the dry season.
 
bulletMud Lake Loop
A 6.8 mile (10.9 km) loop from Coot Bay Pond, four miles (6 km) north of Flamingo. Enjoy a variety of habitats on this loop connecting the Buttonwood Canal, Coot Bay, Mud Lake, and the Bear Lake Canoe Trail. Birding is often good in Mud Lake. Accessible from the Bear Lake Trailhead or Coot Bay Pond. Motors prohibited on Mud Lake, Bear Lake, and the Bear Lake Canal.
 
bulletWest Lake Trail
A 7.7 miles (12.3 km) one way to Alligator Creek. Seven miles (11 km) north of Flamingo. Paddle through a series of large open lakes connected by narrow creeks lined with mangroves. Good alligator and crocodile habitat. West Lake is closed to vessels with motors greater than 5.5 h.p. Motors prohibited from the east end of West Lake to Garfield Bight. Not recommended on windy days due to exposed, rough waters.
 
bulletSandfly Island Trip
A 2 1/2 hours round trip (add an hour if travelling against wind and tides). Add one hour to walk the trail on the island. A marked channel leads you two miles across Chokoloskee Bay to a mangrove island. Sandfly Island has a dock and a one mile (1600 m) loop walking trail. To go onto the island it is best to land on the shore and walk to the trail, rather than attempting to get out on the dock.

Sandfly Island has a long human history. The island itself is a shell mound created by Calusa Indians. In the early 1900s European settlers had a home site, tomato farm, and even a store on the island. Nature has since reclaimed the island, and virtually no sign of human settlement remains. Before returning to the ranger station you may choose to paddle around the island; however, the oyster bar north of the island may be impassible at low tide. Watch for strong tidal currents south of the park island.
 
bulletChokoloskee Bay Loop
A 2 1/2 hours round trip (add an hour if travelling against wind and tides). A marked channel guides you along the margin of the Ten Thousand Islands. Mostly open water with a few small mangrove islands. Explore the small islands, but use caution, especially at high tide. The miniature world of an oyster bar can be explored at low tide, and dolphins and manatees may be seen. Wear shoes if you plan on walking in shallow water. This trip is best suited for novice canoeists.
 
bulletTurner River
A 5 hours. The 8 mile (13 km) trail begins along the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41), 1/2 mile west of the H.P. Williams Roadside Park, and ends in Chokoloskee Bay near Everglades City. The scenery changes from pine and freshwater cypress forests, to open prairie, to tropical saltwater mangrove swamp. Use extreme caution in the open prairie, as airboats frequent this area.
For a longer trip (6 to 7 hours), turn up Left Hand Turner River and go down Halfway Creek into the boating canal near the Gulf Coast Visitor Center.
 
bulletHalfway Creek and Turner River Loop
A 4 hours round trip (add one hour if traveling against wind and tide). Put your canoe in at the launch site behind the Ranger Station. Follow the shoreline east and paddle up Halfway Creek to Turner Lake, then return to Chokoloskee Bay or the Gulf Coast Visitor Center via Left Hand Turner River.
 
bulletThe Wilderness Waterway
Is a 99 mile (159 km) inland water route between Flamingo and Gulf Coast. The entire trip takes about 7 hours with an outboard motor, or 9 days by canoe. Numbered markers guide you through mangrove forests, through Whitewater Bay, and around countless islands. Campsites are available along the route. A backcountry permit  is required for overnight camping. Permits may be obtained at the Flamingo or Gulf Coast Visitor Centers.

Boats more than 18 feet (5.5 m) long or with high cabins or windshields should not attempt the trip because of narrow channels and overhanging vegetation.

Nautical charts are necessary for finding your way in the coastal zone, and are useful in planning your trip. They may be purchased from area stores, or from the Natural History Mail Order Bookshelf.

If you are driving to Key West either from home or after
flying into Miami this is a must side trip.
Clyde's Key West Parks
 


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